The Village of Ephraim created an ad hoc committee to pursue designation as a Green Tier community, or a place where infrastructure and governance are carried out through the lens of sustainability.
The Department of Natural Resources administers the program, but it gives municipalities wide latitude to create their own benchmarks, agenda and timeline. A municipality seeking to become a Green Tier community passes a resolution, creates its own goals and grades itself annually on its progress.
“I think we should all be more environmentally conscious of what’s going on, and this is a process where we are allowed to do that,” said Cindy Nelson, a member of the committee and the village board. “We all should be looking at our environment through clearer eyes.”
The Village of Egg Harbor passed a resolution to become a Green Tier community in August 2017. Projects such as the seed library, additional recycling bins and the bike-share program all contribute to the goals set forth in the village’s Green Tier plan.
Although the village may pursue new projects to meet the program’s goals, Nelson said the goal-setting and self-assessment aspects strip the program of political controversy by simply providing information to guide policy making.
“It gives us some creedence when I go to my physical-facilities committee and say, ‘Let’s look at solar instead.’ This group can give me some good data as to why we should go that route,” Nelson said.
The program comes at no direct cost to the village, and designation may unlock grant dollars for projects in pursuit of sustainability goals. Nelson specifically mentioned the Ephraim wetlands at the southern end of the village as a candidate for needed grant funds.
The committee is now working through the application and identifying areas where the village can set realistic goals: in areas such as water quality, wellness and energy, for example. Nelson is excited to see new and younger residents participating in the committee, viewing the program as a way to engage a different group of Ephraim locals in village affairs.